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Diggers Rest Onions & flu; Eco gardening tips; Kumara Patties
June 02, 2011

June 2011 Issue #69


What fun that we both love gardening. Thanks for joining me.

1) Onions & flu
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Kumara Patties

Butterflies — if these wonderful creatures did not already exist, no human mind could possibly dream them up.
~ Gerald Durrell

Onions, flu and faith

Nearly 40 readers have given their opinion on whether onions left out will stop the flu virus. From the proven believers to the sceptics jibe ("I keep a stone in my pocket to keep tigers away") to the last reply which implies; 'belief' in something makes it real to us. See Can onions stop flu.

Fire pits and planting

Here's another interesting question: Planting over an old fire pit. Jon wants to know if it's safe because they burnt plastic, rubber, metal and glass. I've replied and it may come in handy for some of you, or you could have more information to add, so please do chip in.

I also just found a useful guide by US City Farmer News, to what to look for and how to check when Re-planting an urban garden over possible contaminated ground.

Eco gardening tips

  • Mmm mint:
    The saying about perennials — they sleep the first year, creep second year and leap the third year, is often rudely ignored by mint. Mint, even if contained, can still run riot. So let it invade your path and give it a good stamping on, (or stomping if in the US) as you go past to get a delightful fragrance; pluck the tips and scatter around... heavenly.
  • More mint:
    If you keep a large jug of water on the bench or in the fridge like I do, then a few mint leaves in it are refreshing. Combinations such as mint and a couple of cucumber or lemon slices add an extra fresh zing.

  • Sweet baby sprouts:
    You don't have to sow all seeds in the packet just because they're there! But even careful sowings may need a crowd disperser, so when thinning out seedlings, such as Bok Choy, Lettuce, Carrots etc... take a bowl, pop them in, wash and eat roots and all. Very nutritious and great in a sammy.

Kumara - large red

Kumara Patties

Here in NZ we call our purple-skinned sweet potato, Kumara. It has a delicious, mild flavour. If using the sweeter white or orange sweet potatoes, you can mix them with ordinary potatoes if you like.


  • 2 med/large kumara (about 500 gms)
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup soft breadcrumbs (I blended 2-3 slices wholemeal to make breadcrumbs)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Oil or butter for frying


  1. Roughly chop kumara or sweet potatoes, steam or boil in little water until soft.
  2. Drain any water and give a good mashing.
  3. Meanwhile saute onions gently in dash of water or oil until translucent and slightly soft.
  4. Add eggs, onions, breadcrumbs and seasonings to mashed kumara, mix well, shape into small patties and dust with flour.
  5. Heat oil or butter in frypan to medium heat, add patties and fry until golden.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: Approximately 35 minutes
Serves: 3-4 people

Happy gardening,

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